I just got off a skype coaching call with an Indian friend named Anil, who pastors a community of Jesus followers in Darjeeling, India with his wife and young son. I was so moved by their story. Anil and his wife Shakun started House of Hope Vineyard 3 or so years ago. The church is made up of mostly young people and the poor. They can’t afford to financially support Anil and his family. To make ends meet, Shakun, Anil’s wife who is a nurse, is in Israel working and sending the money back home to support the family and the church. Jasiel, their 9 year old son, hasn’t seen his mom for over a year. Listening to their story, I was so moved and convicted by the selfless choices they as a family are making to serve Jesus and their community.
NB: A big thank you to all who financially support us so we can coach folks like this. We want to go visit these friends in India in the next year. If you’d like to go let me know. We have so much that we can learn from them about faith and simple obedience.
This last Wednesday was the beginning of Lent, a period of 40 days when we give up something that we love or enjoy as an outward expression of our love for Jesus. I love this definition of fasting by Scot McKnight: “Fasting is a natural response of a person to a grievous or sacred moment.” People tend to not be hungry when they are in love or when they are grieving.
Lent is not about focusing on what we are giving up, and whining or being grumpy about it. A real experience of Lent is when we are moved to give some things up for a greater love or good.
Lent is not meant as a time to pay penance or punish ourselves, but a season to reflect on what and who is most important to us. It is a period of time to help us develop rhythms of living that re-connect us with what really gives us lasting joy, and abundant life. We may choose to forgo some things to provide for those we love, or so we have more time for those we love! Parents do this for their kids. Dating couples have no problem giving up any distractions that keep them from one another.
Out of love for Jesus, and a concern for people we love around us, what sacrifices are we willing to make to see His Kingdom come here on earth? Are we practicing Lent as a means of arm twisting God to give us something, or to appease God for our sin?
Is Lent a lifestyle I’m living daily?